Guaranteed SEO could be completely real and totally legitimate when it’s interpreted as pay-for-performance SEO. Think about it – you don’t have to pay for any unsuccessful SEO campaigns. Wouldn’t that be cool? Before you get too excited, read on. This article will unveil you the 3 layers of guarantee of SEO services and you will learn how to get them without falling into traps.
Is Guaranteed SEO possible?
Let’s demystify the guarantees, identify the catches, avoid scammers and more.
Perhaps it’s not your first time reading about Guaranteed SEO or similar phrases, which have been flying around for quite a while. This buzzword creates almost as much confusion as it does curiosity. Over-used yet seldom-delivered, many business owners become jaded, especially those who have been burned a few times. So before Guaranteed SEO becomes truly cliché, let’s examine what in the world the guarantees actually are and on what they are founded. You may be surprised how many layers of guarantees are out there, and what you can expect from each.
Guarantee…Yeah, I’ve heard this before, why can’t someone put their money where their mouth is and get me on the top of google, i would gladly pay for that!
Let’s start with common skeptical questions.
1) “I’d love to be ranked in the first page of Google. But … can they really do it?”
Interpretation: “Few people know exactly how Google ranks websites. Only the large companies can afford to rank at the top. How can they possibly guarantee the first page result for my website? Is it a scam? Or are they just trying to lure me in and then charge me a fortune?”
Answer: Demand a pay-for-performance guarantee – or don’t sign. This is the essential layer of guarantee.
First of all, Google’s goal remains delivering the most relevant search results to ordinary users. Although Google’s algorithm is not open to public, its ranking formula is. All legitimate SEO firms who follow the ranking formula actually help Google reinforce the formula and thus achieve its goal.
However, SEO used to be a pay-and-pray service, with no guarantee whatsoever. The market was sheer chaos. Anyone dropping a little jargon could claim expertise, charging customers premium prices for basic services. Guaranteed SEO solves this problem, providing customers true protection.
When people hear promises like “1st page of Google … or it’s free”, their skepticism is founded on a misunderstanding. It simply means the company does NOT charge for unsuccessful SEO campaigns – what pay-for-performance all about. If an SEO firm suggests that they can place ANY website in the first page of Google, you can bet they are scammers.
The devil is in the details, you definitely want to find out what is covered by guarantees. For instance, how many keywords, often in percentage terms, are guaranteed to place the target website in the 1st page of Google? Typically you see the guarantee ranges from 40% to as high as 90%. Of course, the higher percentage the better (and often pricier).
More importantly, you should find out the quality of the keywords. Many SEO firms would suggest that you avoid the high competition keywords and find the ones overlooked by your competitors. This is, for lack of better word, worthless. Who CANNOT deliver a guarantee on weak keywords? Such suggestions only highlights the weakness of the SEO firm. To maximize your return on investment and capture the best converting traffic, you should always select the keywords that are of high competition, high relevance (to your business), and high search volume. After all, these are the ones your customers/audience would search when they are in the buying mode.
Never be fooled by those who show you only their own website ranking in Google under some “SEO” strings. This only shows the capability of the firm in one category. In the SEO business, results talk. Ranking customers’ (NOT the SEO firm’s) websites on the 1st page of Google is the only result that matters. In fact, some top SEO firms never rank their own websites because they don’t want their competitors to track through and discover what resources have been leveraged to deliver the incredible results.
2) “How long can I stay in the first page of Google?”
Interpretation: “Yeah, I know you might be able to push my website to the first page of Google initially, but I want to stay there indefinitely. I don’t want to pay forever for a one-day first page result.”
Answer: Obtain an ongoing guarantee. This is the second layer of guarantee, also the most valuable guarantee in the SEO business.
Let’s face it – everybody in the same industry or categories fight for those precious 10 spots on Google’s first page. You can safely bet that, in competitive markets, all the websites in the first page of Google are backed by some SEO experts. In other words, staying in the first page is an ongoing campaign to outperform those poor souls on the 2nd and 3rd page. Only the most confident, competent SEO firms provide an ongoing guarantee, especially on competitive categories and competitive keywords. Such firms are rare.
3) “Are they legitimate?”
Interpretation: “Do these guys use dirty tricks or spam Google? I don’t want my website to be blacklisted by Google – my reputation and business would be ruined.”
Answer: To deal with this issue, demand a legitimacy guarantee. This is the third and final layer of guarantee.
Technically, since Google is not the government, we should not use the word “legal” or “illegal” here. Nevertheless, Google zealously enforces its rules on SEO and, in fact, has a dedicated anti-spamming department to uncover and penalize those who violate them.
In the SEO industry, the terms white and black hat are used referring to legitimate and illegitimate measures. According to Wikipedia, white hat measures include backlinks development in credible websites and blogs, while black hat measures mainly count keyword stuffing, cloaked webpages and link farms.
Almost every year, Google does a major cleanup to remove the rankings of thousands of websites resulting from black hat SEO. The most recent one happened in February 2011, affecting an incredible 14% of Google indexed websites. Even such giants as JC Penny and BMW were caught and penalized by Google (see http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/13/business/13search.html).
There are a few ways you can easily identify if an SEO firm uses white or black hat measures to improve its customers’ organic ranking:
a) Make sure the firm has been established for more than two years. Most black hat companies are fly-by-night operations, establishing new business names to cover their illegitimate past.
b) Find out how long the firm’s customers have been ranked on the first page of Google. If the customers’ rankings were upped via black hat measures, the ranking typically won’t last six months.
c) Ask the firm if they provide any sort of ongoing guarantee. This is the Achilles’ heel of all black hat firms. Sooner or later, the rankings pushed up by black hat measures will be removed by Google for good. (Note: Many legitimate SEO firms with a proven record of business do NOT offer an ongoing guarantee, either. It only means they are NOT in the pay-for-performance business model yet.)
1. Pay-for-performance guarantee is necessary but insufficient. To achieve the best business results (leads and sales), the guarantee has to be on the keywords that are of high competition, high relevance (to your business), and high search volume.
2. Ongoing pay-for-performance guarantee is the most valuable guarantee. You might have to pay more, but it’s worthwhile. Otherwise, a 6 or 12 month contract might cost you dearly for ranking in the first page only in the first month or two.
3. A legitimacy guarantee is fundamental to everything else. White hat SEO is relatively slow. For low to moderate competition categories, 1 to 2 months are needed to rank most of the keywords to the first page. For high competition categories, 3 months at least might be required. Better safe than sorry – you don’t want to hire a black hat guy who promises you instant results (2 to 3 weeks or so) only to find your well-designed site blacklisted by Google three months later, do you?
Now, with all three guarantees in place, can a successful SEO campaign guarantee you business success? Not necessarily. Google is powerful, yet it is not your ATM.
Imagine all the right keywords have ranked your website in the first page of Google, ask yourself “Now what?” Have your business fundamentals in place. Be prepared before your glorious moment comes. More on this subject to come! Learn more about our service here.
Source: Frank Ni – WGi partner SEO team